Welcoming International: Our members’ COVID-19 response

Jun 10, 2020

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, all participants in the global Welcoming movement are working to ensure not only that norms of inclusion don’t fall by the wayside, but that they are further affirmed in this time of extreme crisis. Our members’ response to COVID-19 is wide-ranging, and constantly iterating, but below are some key areas of work being emphasized during the crisis.

Inclusive emergency response

During a public health emergency, inclusion is about making sure everyone is safe. Ethnicity, migration status, neighborhood, or language shouldn’t determine someone’s fate, but too many community residents are facing unnecessary hardship or even death because they face unique barriers to protection and support. Welcoming towns and cities strive to address the unique barriers that immigrants, refugees, and other marginalized populations face during these times. A good example of these principles in practice is our member Welcoming Australia’s Nobody Left Behind campaign.

Inclusive recovery

Although towns and cities worldwide are deep within the emergency response phase currently, some are already gearing up for the next phase – recovery. In order for the local-level recovery phase to be successful, it must include community-wide recovery planning, and that planning should be as inclusive as possible. Local participants in the global Welcoming movement have been doing community-wide inclusion planning for years. These planning processes – which are usually led by a municipality, and always engage representatives from all sectors of the community – identify and subsequently address the major barriers that migrants and other community members face in their journeys towards full economic and civic participation. These processes should serve as a model for inclusive COVID-19 recovery planning. For examples of community-wide inclusion plans from across the movement, see our resource library.

Inclusive narrative

One of the biggest future barriers to an inclusive recovery will be threats to social cohesion. As economies begin to gradually open again, the potential for scapegoating of foreigners and other marginalized groups, which has already begun, is likely to increase. If community members turn against one another or any leaders promote an “us-versus-them” rhetoric, public trust and social cohesion – two of the most important ingredients in a successful recoverywill be lost.

In order to avoid this scenario, intentional work to advance social cohesion needs to begin now. With this in mind, Welcoming International is laying the groundwork for a global campaign to harness the enhanced sentiments of good will and community solidarity experienced by many during the initial stages of the outbreak, especially towards front line workers in health care, emergency services, food services, and other essential industries – all occupations where immigrants and other marginalized groups play outsized roles. Stay tuned for more information on this campaign, and on additional updates on the work of our members – all of whom are working diligently to advance positive local narratives during these trying times.

Finally, there are so many online resources for local and inclusive responses to COVID-19, we couldn’t possibly list them all. Nevertheless, here are a few of our favorite ideas for municipalities and other local-level welcomers during COVID-19:

If you have a resource you would like to pitch please send it to info@welcominginternational.org

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